Presentation on theme: "Climate and health Luiza Gharibyan, associate professor of Department Hygiene and Ecology Yerevan State Medical University."— Presentation transcript:
Climate and health Luiza Gharibyan, associate professor of Department Hygiene and Ecology Yerevan State Medical University
The earth receives almost all its energy from the sun in the form of radiation, and the sun is the dominant influence on climate.
CLIMATIC INDICATORS These are principally temperature, humidity, precipitation, sky condition, solar radiation, and intensity and direction of winds.
There is a large body of literature devoted to the impact of variable climate and weather on human well-being. The impact of temperature on morbidity and mortality can be assessed at both the seasonal and daily level.
Medical disorders such as bronchitis, peptic ulcer, adrenal ulcer, glaucoma, goiter, eczema, and herpes zoster are related to seasonal variations in temperature.
Heart failure (most often myocardial infarction) and cerebrovascular accidents represent two general mortality categories that have been correlated many times with ambient monthly temperatures.
Complications from these disorders can be expected at higher temperatures since the body responds to thermal stress by forcing blood into peripheral areas to promote heat loss through the skin.
This increases central blood pressure and encourages constriction of blood vessels near the core of the body. However, increases in heart disease are also noted at very cold temperatures as well. Strong negative correlations have been found between winter temperature and deaths in certain North American, northern Asian, and European countries.
The degree of seasonality in the climate of a region also appears to affect mortality rates. Countries with smaller seasonal temperature ranges exhibit steeper regression lines in temperature-mortality correlations than do countries with greater temperature ranges. Maximum death rates in warmer countries are found at below normal temperatures, and in cooler countries similar temperatures will produce no appreciable rise in mortality.
There is conflicting evidence concerning the impact of daily temperature fluctuations on human mortality. Some studies contend that mostly long-term (i.e., monthly and annual) fluctuations in temperature affect mortality (Sakamoto and Katayama, 1971) and only small, irregular aberrations can be explained by daily temperature variability (Persinger, 1980).
However, Kalkstein and Davis (1985) report that daily fluctuations in temperature can increase mortality rates by up to 50% in certain cities. This has been corroborated in a detailed study of New York City mortality where large increases in total and elderly mortality occurred during the 1980 heat wave.
During warm periods, a "threshold temperature," which is the maximum temperature above which mortality increases, can be determined. The threshold temperature for deaths in New York, above which mortality increases dramatically, is 92 deg.F. This procedure can be repeated for winter, as discussed later in this section, where the threshold temperature represents the minimum temperature below which mortality increases.
Impacts of Hot Weather General Relationships Much of the temperature-mortality research has concentrated on heat and cold wave episodes. Many researchers continue to utilize total mortality figures in their analyses, as deaths from a surprisingly large number of causes appear to escalate with increasing temperature.
A number of studies compare death rates for extreme periods with those encountered during normal meteorological periods; this approach has met with some success. A lag period of one day was most often uncovered, others, however, have observed a two-to three-day Temperature affects not only mortality, but also morbidity.
Most research indicates that mortality rates during extreme heat vary with age, sex, and race Hot weather extremes appear to have a more substantial impact on mortality than cold wave episodes. In summer 2003, up to 180 people dying in one day in Paris due to the abnormally high temperatures, and several thousands of people died during the heat wave.
The elderly seem to suffer from impaired physiological responses and often are unable to increase their cardiac output sufficiently during extremely hot weather. In addition, sweating efficiency decreases with advancing age, and many of the medications commonly taken by the elderly have been reported to increase the risk of heat stroke.
Impact of Cold Weather Many studies have provided evidence that mortality rates increase during periods of cold weather. In general, total mortality is about 15% higher on an average winter day than on an average summer day. However, increases in mortality during exceedingly cold periods are less dramatic than their hot weather counterparts. The impact of cold on human well- being is highly variable.
Not only is cold weather responsible for direct causes of death such as hypothermia, influenza, and pneumonia, it is also a factor in a number of indirect ways. Death and injury from falls, accidents, carbon monoxide poisoning, and house fires are all partially attributable to cold.
The body reacts to cold by constricting the blood vessels in your skin and near the periphery of your body. So, the heart has to work harder to squeeze blood through the narrow vessels. This may be too much for a sick heart.
There is evidence that a lag time of two to three days exists between the offending cold weather and the ultimate mortality response (Kalkstein, 1984). Deaths did not necessarily rise on the day of the coldest temperatures, but in many cases, the sharpest increases were noted three days after the coldest weather occurred. A similar lag time was not noted after extremely hot summer days; the impact appears more immediate in summer.
Effects of Humidity Humidity has an important impact on mortality since it influences the body's ability to cool itself by means of evaporation of perspiration. In addition, humidity affects human comfort, and the perceived temperature by humans is largely dependent upon atm ospheric moisture content.
The effects of low humidity can be especially dramatic in winter, when low moisture content induces stress upon the nasal- pharynx and trachea. When very cold, dry air passes through these organs, warming occurs and air temperatures in the pharynx can reach 30deg.F.
The ability of this warmer air to hold moisture increases dramatically, and moisture is extracted at a prodigious rate from the nasal passages and upper respiratory tract, leading to excessive dehydration of these organs.
This appears to increase the chance of microbial or viral infection since a rise in the viscosity of bronchial mucous seems to reduce the ability of the body to fight offending microorganisms that may enter the body from the atmosphere.
Weather-sensitive people may become irritated a day or two before the change and are often miserable when a weather front arrives. For example, hospital records in the US show that a greater number of babies are born during those weather conditions, headaches and migraines increase. Rheumatics dread the arrival of cold and damp weather, and the dry and dusty inland wind prior to the arrival of the front triggers asthma or aggravates the symptoms.
Hay fever sufferers also know exactly when such a weather condition occurs. The pre-frontal dry wind from the inland has similar properties to that experienced by the populations in Europe's alpine countries and in Canada and the US near the Rocky Mountains. These ill winds have a name, such as foehn in Central Europe and chinook and Santa Ana in North America.
Frontal passages may have a profound impact on well-being and mortality as large variations in weather conditions can occur in a very short time. Rapid changes in temperature have been shown to produce a number of physiological changes in the body. Rapid drops may affect blood pH, blood pressure, urinatian volume, and tissue permeability.
Outbreaks of epidemics may also be related to frontal passage.. The influenza outbreaks in Europe most frequently occurred between January and March, when cold air masses most commonly intruded over the area.
A number of studies have also found relationships between the numbers of reported migraine attacks and rapid changes in barometric pressure. A significant drop in barometric pressure leads to an expansion of air in isolated body cavities and of fluids in membranes. This can put pressure on the inflamed or injured tissues in joints or muscles, causing increased pain.
Some people experience the same phenomenon during air travel when the cabin pressure drops during the take-off climb. Weather sensitivity pain could be caused by the irritation of nerve ends from rapid changes in weather elements.
Also, bones and muscles have different densities, and the unequal expansion and contraction during temperature and humidity variations may increase the pain in inflamed or injured joints and muscles.
There is a great need to quantify much of the subjective and intuitive information that has been published on climate/mortality relationships. Considering the enormous amount of mortality and morbidity data presently available from the National Center for Health Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control, and other agencies, more precise weather/health relationships should be uncovered in the near future. Perhaps one of the greatest challenges and areas of future research is determining the necessary cost to society to overcome climate stress.